Wellesley Basketball Falls Just Short at MIT, 47-44

Julia Monaco
Julia Monaco

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Wellesley College basketball rallied to within one-point of host MIT in the fourth quarter, but came up just short in their bid to defeat the Engineers, dropping a 47-44 final in a New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) contest on Saturday at Rockwell Cage.

MIT improves to 12-3 on the season and 6-1 in the NEWMAC with the win. The setback snaps Wellesley's four-game win streak, moving the Blue to 7-6 overall and 3-4 in conference play. The two sides will meet again later this season on Wednesday, February 15, at Wellesley. 

MIT sophomore Kara Holinski (Livonia, Mich.) recorded a double double, scoring a game-high 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, to lead the Engineers to victory. Holinski played all 40 minutes in the contest, recording three assists and three steals, while knocking down a game-high four three-pointers. Senior Liana Ilutzi (East Hanover, N.J.) and sophomore Kristen Ngan (Sudbury, Mass.) each added nine points and junior Lindsay Westlake (Brookline, Mass.) grabbed six boards and a game-high four steals.

Wellesley first year Emily Kopp (King Ferry, N.Y.) led all players with 12 rebounds, helping the Blue to finish with a 39-35 edge in rebounding in the contest. Kopp also added seven points in 29 minutes of action. Senior Ailis Hanley (Cranston, R.I.) had team-highs with ten points and a pair of assists, finishing in double figures for the fourth-straight game. Sophomore Zojajha Ayub (Belle Mead, N.J.) and first year Kendall You Mak (San Francisco, Calif.) both added six points, with You Mak also racking up seven rebounds, two assists and three steals. 

The Blue opened the game on an 8-3 run, but MIT went on to outscore Wellesley 20-6 over the final 6:17 of the first quarter to take a 23-14 lead into the second. Holinski scored 13 of her game-high 18 in the opening period, shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from long distance.

Both teams struggled from the floor in the second quarter, with the two sides combining for just nine points. Hanley scored the final bucket of the half for the Blue with 2:35 left in the second, as Wellesley trimmed three points off of their deficit to head to the break trailing the Engineers by six, at 26-20.

Wellesley got one point closer following a back-and-forth third quarter in which the Blue outscored their hosts 14-13. The Blue got to within three late in the in third, when Kopp knocked down a pair of free throws at 1:24, but MIT first year Cindy Si (San Antonio, Texas) hit two late free throws to give MIT a five point edge, at 39-34, heading into the fourth. 

The Blue got as close as one in the final stanza. Junior Chelsea Brown (San Jose, Calif.) capped an 8-2 Wellesley run with a layup at 3:52 that made the score 44-42, before Iluzi put the hosts back up 45-42 with a layup at 1:58. Wellesley junior Kayla Jang (South Pasadena, Calif.) then hit a layup with 28 seconds to play to pull the Blue to within one, at 45-44, but Ngan knocked down a pair of free throws and Hanley missed on the Blue's final bid as time expired to give MIT the 47-44 win.

Both teams shot just over 35 percent from the floor, while the Blue owned a 32-12 advantage in points in the paint and scored 22 points off of 22 MIT turnovers. MIT knocked down eight triples in the game, shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc, while holding the Blue without a bucket from distance.

Wellesley returns home to host Smith in NEWMAC play on Wednesday, January 18, at 7:00 PM. MIT will also play on Wednesday at 7:00 PM, when they travel to nearby Emerson College.